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Helping Others Help the Homeless - KOAM TV 7

Helping Others Help the Homeless

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

Some residents of Cowley County, Kansas want to make a major change to the way they handle local homelessness.

"We currently don't have any resources for the homeless. In a lot of cases, their sent to Wichita," said Brad Gamber of the Cowley County Economic Development Partnership.

For the last year, the Cowley County Economic Development Partnership has been visiting communities that have had success helping rural homeless populations, and that includes Pittsburg. On Friday, they toured the Safehouse Crisis Center, the Wesley House day shelter, and Lord's Diner.

"We weren't really teaching anything as much as taking our friends from Cowley County and showing them all of the locations and partnerships that Pittsburg has, that are currently working together to address homelessness," said Becky Gray, Pittsburg's Director of Housing and Community Development.

The point of the tour was to show Cowley County what's possible, when a community focuses its resources on helping its most vulnerable members. But those resources didn't spring up overnight, and part of the post-tour meeting focused on how Cowley County can develop its own.

"More than money, it's about strategy and it's about partnerships and it's about using the resources that already exist in ways that compliment each other, and then identifying whether we still have gaps of services," said Gray.

Cowley County hopes the lessons learned in Pittsburg eventually help them create a facility similar to the ones toured in Pittsburg.

"We'd like to have an overnight shelter to help people that are homeless get out of the elements whenever they come about," said Gamber.

And Pittsburg has similar plans for 2018 as well.

"Another short term goal is a code blue shelter. That would be a shelter that's open when the weather gets cold enough that it's going to harm a body to sleep outside," said Gray.

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